Ignorance is misery

Published 12:22 am Sunday, May 8, 2011

Turnout for Saturday’s redistricting hearing at Beaufort County Community College was, in a word, pathetic.

A handful of people showed up at four video-linked sites in four counties to offer thoughts on the N.C. General Assembly’s efforts to redraw legislative and congressional districts.

In neighboring Pitt County, which is far richer in population than Beaufort County, just three speakers bothered to address listening lawmakers who will have a great deal of control over redistricting.

The Republican organizers of this series of public-input sessions aren’t to blame for the poor turnout.

In fact, the GOP leadership in Raleigh has shown a remarkable willingness to seek input from ordinary citizens concerned about redistricting, a notable improvement over the relative secrecy of the process as carried out under their Democratic predecessors.

Those of us who are of voting age should care about redistricting and take the time and trouble to learn about this essential element of our state’s electoral future.

Redistricting does a lot to determine who represents you in the state House and Senate and in Congress, and, by extension, affects everything from road money to local government building projects and far more.

In the last round of redistricting, Beaufort County was placed whole and intact in state Senate District 1, which was represented by Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare.

Basnight was the longest-serving president pro tempore in North Carolina history and enjoyed unprecedented influence in the state capital.

This is why redistricting matters: What happens in the Legislature affects every single resident of this state. How legislators make it to Raleigh often depends largely on the shape of their districts, and the districts are drawn by č guess who č the Legislature.

So we were a little disappointed that 11 people showed up at BCCC for Saturday’s hearing, including one elected official, Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort.

Where were our mayors, council members, school board members and county commissioners?

Who will speak for Beaufort County as redistricting unfolds this month?

Who will care enough to make sure our county’s interests are fairly represented in Raleigh? After all, Cook can’t do this alone. He’s serves on the House redistricting committee and needs to hear from voters on this issue.

Lawmakers on the House and Senate redistricting committees say they are ready to listen.

Let your voice be heard, before it’s too late.

To learn more about redistricting, visit www.ncleg.net/redistricting.